"The Willing"


30 minutes

live performance

Performed at the Sharjah Biennial (2023) and Praise Shadows Art Gallery in Boston MA (2022)  

The Willing is a live performance that activates several of artist Helina Metaferia’s sculptures within a multimedia installation. During the performance, Metaferia engages in song, movement, and text alongside collaborators to share the stories of familial, artistic, and political ancestors, who have participated in defiant actions against colonization, white supremacy, and patriarchal oppression in the African Diaspora. The crown, tapestry, photographs, and ephemera passed between women provide ritualistic entry points to conjure memory and oral histories. The sculptural components point toward the aesthetic of regal adornment as a way to elevate one's position in societies that are fraught with institutionalized and systemic oppression against Black women's bodies. In the version at Sharjah Biennial, the performers include New York City-based singers ArinMaya Lawrence and Abby Dobson, and the tribute is made to Black women artist-activists Toni Morrison, bell hooks, and Nina Simone. In a previous iteration at Praise Shadows Art Gallery in Boston, the performers include Metaferia’s eleven-year-old niece, Sela Woldeyes, and artists Ja’Hari Ortega and Matilda Biscaldi, and a tribute is made to five generations of women in Metaferia's family.